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Tour 4:

Paraty – Ouro Preto

Ecotravel & Tours / Brazil – ParatyOuro Preto is an advanced to extreme level mountain bike tour, along the historic gold trail (Estrada Real) which passes the Bocaina and Mantiqueira mountain ranges and colonial towns of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais (see tour map).

Bahia is Brazil's soul and Minas Gerais its heart, the people say. Nobody knows exactly, who, in 1693, was the first to find gold somewhere between Vila Rica (actual Ouro Preto) and São João del Rey / Tiradentes but for sure it must have been one of the Bandeirantes expeditions from São Paulo. The extent of the subsequent gold fever is beyond all imagination.

Large crowds of adventurers from all countries of the world and of all classes rushed to the gold fields in Minas Gerais. In addition to the withdrawal of African slaves from the sugar cane plantations in Bahia new slaves had to be imported from Africa. The location of Brazils capital was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. In order to satisfy the gold diggers food demand, cattle breeders had to drive their cows over 1.000 km from the fertile pastures in the south (Campos Gerais) to the distant mining areas in Brazils heartland. It was the time of large cattle transports, the so-called Tropismo.

More than 1.000 tons of gold, corresponding to 80% of world production were extracted at that time from the gold mines and afterwards transported by horse and donkeys to the sea. The expeditions needed months to cross the Mantiqueira and Bocaina mountain ranges until finally reaching the port of Paraty. In compensation prosperity of that time was unbelievable.

Today, the prosperity has disappeared but art and culture have remained. There might be found examples of colonial architecture also in other Latin American countries but only the historical cities of Minas Gerais preserved a character that can’t be find nowhere else, neither in Brazil.

The historical towns of Minas Gerais and it’s baroque architecture owe their glory to Antonio Francisco Lisboa (1738 - 1814) one of the most creative artists at that time. Due to a leper illness he was forced to realize big part of his work by kneeing. That’s why the people called him “O Aleijadinho” (the crippled). The “Santuario Bom Jesus” in Congonhas do Campo is considered one of the masterpieces of Aleijadinhos work. As the city of Ouro Preto it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

On rugged terrain and mostly unpaved roads, the mountain bike tour Paraty - Ouro Preto gives you the opportunity to relive this amazing chapter of Brazil's history.

Please click here to order the maps and trail description of this tour.